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theft, Wheaton criminal defense attorneysThere are multiple factors that determine whether a retail theft conviction is a misdemeanor or felony, which is an important distinction for the offender. A felony conviction has stricter penalties, sometimes including mandatory prison time, and causes more limitations for people who have one on their criminal record. The value of the stolen items is one of the primary differences between a misdemeanor and a felony retail theft charge. Unfortunately for Illinois residents, the state has one of the lowest monetary thresholds for a felony retail theft charge, which puts defendants at greater risk of a felony conviction.

Illinois Retail Theft Law

In Illinois, the cutoff between misdemeanor and felony retail theft charges is a mere $300. A first-time retail theft conviction involving $300 or less is a Class A misdemeanor, while a first-time conviction involving more than $300 is a Class 4 felony. To put that number into perspective:

  • The felony threshold for standard theft in Illinois is $500.
  • Illinois is one of only six states that allows felony retail theft charges for first offenses involving less than $500.
  • Fifteen states require the value of the items to be at least $1,200 before mandating a felony charge.
  • Some states have set the threshold as high as $2,500.

A group of Illinois state legislators is attempting to address the state's strict retail theft law by introducing a bill that would raise the felony threshold to $2,000, which would be one of the highest thresholds in the country. Since the law was introduced in January 2019, it has yet to move past short debates at the committee level.

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sex crime, campus police, Illinois Criminal Defense LawyerA new measure has been proposed in the Illinois House that would change the way in which sexual assaults are investigated on college campuses. The bill was drafted in response to a number of high-profile cases involving campus sex crimes that university police and administrators have been accused of mishandling.

In late March, Representative David Harris, R-ArlingtonHeights, introduced House Bill 3520, known as the Investigations of Sexual Assault in Higher Education Act. In drafting the bill, Rep. Harris hoped to address growing concerns that police departments on public university and community college campuses may be hamstrung in their efforts to effectively investigate sex crimes occurring in their jurisdiction. His proposal would make local law enforcement officials, such as municipal police departments and county sheriffs, responsible for the investigation of such crimes.

My concern was that campus police are not as equipped, trained, and prepared to handle allegations of sexual assaults as are trained law enforcement officers, he said. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, he indicated the dangerous possibility exists that a campus police department may be more interested in protecting the school from negative publicity than seeking justice for victims. I’m not saying this happens, Harris said, but there could be a bias on the part of campus police.

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